Artwork Details

Gordon Parks


Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington, D.C., 1963
Gelatin silver print on paper
10 1/2 x 13 3/8 inches
Not on view
Accession Number
Museum Purchase
Image Copyright
© Gordon Parks Foundation

About the Artwork

Gordon Parks believed that images and words could be used as weapons to fight racism, poverty, and all forms of discrimination. His images documenting American life and culture from the early 1940s into the 2000s, with a focus on race relations, socioeconomic class, civil rights, and urban life won him widespread acclaim and a position as the first Black staff photographer for Life magazine in 1948. Parks would remain at the magazine for two decades, covering subjects ranging from racism to fashion and entertainment, and taking memorable pictures of such figures as Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Stokely Carmichael.

This portrait was taken during Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s I Have A Dream’ Speech in Washington, D.C. in 1963, during one of the largest unified actions for human and economic rights that had ever taken place in the United States — the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King delivered his historic speech, urging the nation to put an end to discrimination and intolerance. Gordon Parks was among the many Life staffers present to record the event.